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The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that wraps around the urethra, the tube that urine flows out of. The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. One of its main jobs, along with other organs, is to add fluid to semen. This is the fluid that carries sperm.

The prostate gland starts out small and has two main phases of growth. It doubles in size during the teenage years, then continues to grow again after age 25 throughout the rest of a man’s life.

However, an excessively enlarged prostate results in a disease known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Eventually, an enlarged prostate can clamp down on the urethra and restrict the flow of urine from the bladder.

This leads to problems such as:

Read about natural remedies that may improve some BPH symptoms.

There are several treatment options for an enlarged prostate. You can take alpha-blockers such as terazosin (Hytrin) or tamsulosin (Flomax) to help relax the prostate and bladder muscles.

You can also take dutasteride (Avodart) or finasteride (Proscar), a different kind of medication for reducing BPH symptoms. These block the hormones that cause the prostate to grow.

Combining several types of medications may also be recommended. Your doctor might also recommend surgery to remove the extra prostate tissue. One common surgical procedure for BPH is known as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).

There are also natural remedies that may work to combat enlarged prostate symptoms. However, evidence is debatable on whether these treatments actually work. The American Urological Association currently doesn’t recommend any herbal therapy for managing BPH.

If you do want to try natural remedies, talk to your doctor first. Some herbal treatments can interact with prescription medications. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the quality or purity of herbal supplements. This means there can be a lack of consistent ingredients.

Saw palmetto

Saw palmetto is an herbal remedy that comes from the fruit of a type of palm tree. It’s been used in alternative medicine for centuries to relieve urinary symptoms, including those caused by an enlarged prostate. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a few small-scale studies have suggested that saw palmetto might be effective for relieving BPH symptoms.

However, the NIH reports that when larger studies were conducted, they didn’t find saw palmetto any more effective than a placebo. Research continues to look into the anti-inflammatory and hormone-blocking properties that saw palmetto may have and its possible use in combination with other medications. Saw palmetto is safe to use, but minor side effects can include an upset stomach and headache.

Beta-sitosterol

This herbal medication is a mixture taken from different plants that contain cholesterol-like substances called sitosterols or phytosterols (plant-based fats). Several studies have suggested that beta-sitosterol can relieve urinary symptoms of BPH, including the strength of urine flow. Some scientists have also suggested that it’s these fatty substances — like beta-sitosterol, which is also found in saw palmetto — that are actually doing the work.

There haven’t been any major side effects reported with the use of beta-sitosterol. However, doctors still don’t know all the long-term effects of this natural therapy.

Pygeum

Pygeum comes from the bark of the African plum tree. It’s been used in traditional medicine to treat urinary problems since ancient times, and is often used to treat BPH symptoms, especially in Europe. Because studies on it haven’t been well-designed, it’s hard to know for sure whether it’s effective.

According to the Canadian Journal of Urology, some small studies have suggested the supplement can help with bladder emptying and urine flow. However, the studies reviewed were inconsistent. Pygeum does appear safe to use, but it can cause upset stomach and headache in some people. There are no studies on long-term safety.

Rye grass pollen extract

Rye grass pollen extract is made from three types of grass pollen: rye, timothy, and corn. A review of herbal studies published in BJU International found that in one study, men who took rye grass pollen extract reported an improvement in their symptoms compared to those who were taking a placebo. However, this study lasted only 6 months. It didn’t look at how well the supplement worked compared to prescription medications.

Stinging nettle

You’ll know if you’ve accidentally touched the common European stinging nettle: The hairs on its leaves can cause a sharp jolt of intense pain. But stinging nettle may have some benefits when used as a medicine.

Nettle root is thought to improve some BPH symptoms, and is commonly used in Europe. The use of stinging nettle was found to be effective in decreasing the severity of urinary frequency, nocturia (the frequent need to urinate at night), and urgency, when used in combination with conventional medical treatment

Sometimes nettle is used in combination with other natural BPH treatments, such as pygeum or saw palmetto. Side effects from nettle are usually mild, including upset stomach and skin rash.

Foods to treat BPH

The role of diet in the prevention and treatment of BPH continues to be explored.

A recent 4-year study in China looked at the effects of diet on BPH symptoms. Researchers found that men with diets high in fruits and vegetables — especially leafy, dark vegetables and tomatoes — had less BPH, less symptoms of BPH, and were less likely to have worsening of their BPH. Researchers believe it’s not just one nutrient, but rather the combinations found in a healthful diet and lifestyle, that are beneficial.

It’s important to remember that just because a supplement is labeled “natural” doesn’t always mean it’s safe, healthy, or effective. Remember that the FDA doesn’t regulate herbal remedies like it does prescription and over-the-counter drugs. That means you can’t be totally sure that what’s listed on the label is inside the bottle.

Herbal remedies can also cause side effects and interact with other medications you take. Check with your doctor before trying any natural supplement.

Current research has not found a way to prevent prostate enlargement. For many people, it is something that naturally happens with aging, and the risk of developing BPH does increase with time. In fact, it is so common that it can affect approximately 50 percent of males aged 51 to 60.

While it may not be possible to prevent BPH, it can be treated — especially if detected early. If you begin to experience BPH-like symptoms in your urinary tract, like a reduced urine stream, sudden urges to urinate, or the need to urinate several times during the night, it’s worth talking with your doctor as soon as possible to see if early treatment is necessary.

How do you shrink an enlarged prostate and lower PSA naturally?

One way to shrink an enlarged prostate is through medication, but if you are not ready to take prescription medication, there are some more natural approaches that you can explore, like changes to your diet and exercise routine.

A 2013 review showed that many males with BPH also had vitamin D deficiency. The review also discusses additional studies that focused on increasing vitamin D intake which showed promising results in reducing BPH. Either through supplements or vitamin D-rich foods, increasing vitamin D in your diet may cause a reduction in BPH symptoms.

Obesity may also play a role in the severity of BPH symptoms. Positive changes to your diet may also help with BPH, particularly with the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables like tomatoes — that can also lower the risk of developing prostate cancer — and bell peppers that are rich in vitamin C.

What is the fastest way to shrink an enlarged prostate?

Consider talking with your doctor when you start to experience early symptoms of BPH so they can diagnose the severity of your condition and the best treatments. Your doctor may look into prescribing medications that are approved to treat BPH like 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. These medications include finasteride (Proscar and Propecia) and dutasteride (Avodart). Interestingly, not only do these 5-alpha reductase inhibitors treat BPH but they are one of the main medications prescribed to treat hair loss, too.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a common condition among people over 50 years old and current research doesn’t show a clear way to prevent it. However, there are several treatment options available that can reduce an enlarged prostate and ease symptoms, especially if detected early. It can be easy to dismiss the early warning signs and talking with your doctor about your symptoms may feel embarrassing, but the sooner you can address your BPH with your doctor, the soon you can find relief.